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Attack on Ethnic Politics Rejected

May 30, 1978
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Arthur Goldberg, former Supreme Court Justice and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has strongly rejected the idea that “ethnic causes” are no longer influential in American politics.

Goldberg, who is now an Ambassador-at-Large and headed the U.S. delegation at the recent Belgrade conference on the Helsinki agreements, made his remarks after being awarded the B’nai B’rith President’s Medal by B’nai B’rith president David M. Blumberg at a meeting of the organization’s administrative com mittee Saturday night. Departing from his prepared text on the Belgrade conference, Goldberg said he had been disturbed by “the concept that we have reached a watershed in American politics because ethnic causes can no longer prevail in the American vote.” While Goldberg did not mention it directly, Sen. Mike Gravel (D. Alaska) said that when the Senate supported President Carter’s Middle East plane sale package it was a “litmus test” that would prove to be “the watershed year of Jewish influence in the United States.”


Goldberg said that “We are a unique country, we say we are a pluralistic country and we draw our sense as a nation from the fact that we come from all parts of the world. I always felt it made one a better American to be very proud of one’s origin.”

Declaring that he was “worried” about the revival of the attack on ethnic interests, Goldberg said, “I think this is something we must address ourselves to. We can put aside the fight over the planes, but we cannot put aside this concept in our country’s acceptance for even a single second as to apologizing for being ethnic.”

On the Helsinki agreement, Goldberg characterized the recent trial of Yuri Orlov, head of the Soviet group monitoring the USSR’s compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki agreement, as a “lynching”. He said he feared that the trial of Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky would also lead to a guilty sentence and a long prison sentence. However, “I have the feeling that if they (Soviet authorities) go ahead with it, they will never get the SALT agreement ratified by Congress and I think they have been very sober about it, “he said.

One of the guests at a panel on human rights that followed the Goldberg talk, Dr. Joyce Starr, a Presidential special assistant on human rights who participated in the Belgrade conference, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the White House is aware of the plight of Jessica Katz, the seven-month-old infant child of Soviet Jews who have been refused permission to leave the USSR for vital medical treatment for her. Ms. Starr said the White House is working on the case.

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